Yesterday was, for me, the first day of Fall.
I know… according to the calendar that doesn’t officially happen until Tuesday the 23rd.
But it was cold and occasionally rainy, and it was the first Sunday in months that I didn’t find a beach or other scenic spot to ensconce myself in a lawn chair and read a book.
During my afternoon drive in the country I did notice more geese in the fields than I have been seeing, and in one field on Government Road, near Smith Road, there were more Sandhill Cranes than I could count… and even more continuing to fly in.
Of course, the leaves are turning colour. The change started, with a light blush, in mid-August, but has now become much more vivid and wide-spread.
When I got home, as I walked out to the mailbox, the pungent scent of Autumn filled the air.
For me, Autumn is a bittersweet season. I love the colours, the smells, the wildlife, the harvesting of garden crops. It is my second-favourite season.
(Obviously, summer is my very favourite.)
But Autumn is also the harbinger of Winter. As leaves change colour they also fall off the branches, as trees go dormant for the winter months. The cooler temperatures, especially at night, remind us of the need to get our boots and heavy jackets out of the closet, and put away the sandals, shorts and t-shirts.
If you’ve been following this column for any length of time, you’ll know that I am just not a big fan of Winter.
Yes, there are beautiful, sunny days where the air is crisp and fresh, and the sunlight glitters on the new-fallen snow. But you won’t find too many people sitting out under a shade tree reading a book come mid-January.
I’d be quite happy to have Winter just for a few weeks each year: starting around 15 December, so that there would be snow for my birthday and Christmas, lasting until just after New Year’s Day. And then… I’d be ready for Spring! And a quick, warm Spring, too. Not that mushy, snow-and-puddles, warm-during-the-day, cold-at-night season that we experience here in March and April. I mean green grass and flowers blooming and sunshine.
Then, around the end of May or early June, Summer would be more than welcome. It could last until mid-September, when, once again, Autumn can dazzle us with a brilliant display of colours and a bountiful harvest.
Well… I can dream, can’t I?
Is everybody average?
The recent Chilly Willy’s debate got me thinking…
We really do all see ourselves as “average”, don’t we?
And this is something I have noticed for quite a while — whenever there is an issue that comes up, whether it’s something at school, at work, in the neighbourhood, in the community, or a more far-reaching issue, we tend to consult with our friends and family, people with whom, more than likely, we share a philosophy, or way of thinking. People with whom we tend to agree.
So when it comes down to making a statement, whether for or against the topic being discussed, many people will with all sincerity make the statement, “Everyone I know…”, or the other side of the coin, “Nobody I know…”.
And it’s true; whatever social group one belongs to, chances are good that most people in that group share in their opinions and beliefs.
Where this becomes somewhat problematic is when we juxtapose the group’s point of view onto a wider audience.
If nobody in your group likes knitting (really — Im not picking on knitters!), one will likely say, “Know one I know likes knitting.” However, it is then possible to attribute that same belief to a wider audience, saying “Nobody knits any more.”
Of course, in general terms that is not true. One cannot say that “nobody knits”, even if no one they know does so.
Similarly, “Nobody goes to the library anymore,” is not an accurate statement, although those who offered that in defence of keeping Chilly Willy’s at the Rhodes Community Centre may very well believe that, since no one in their social group goes to the library.
I hear similar arguments put forward with regard to public transit (“Nobody rides the bus!”) and other community services.
This isn’t meant as a criticism, but as an acknowledgement that our own worlds have gotten more compartmentalized.
We are very busy. We have work, activities, meetings, and other demands on our time.
While the digital age has, in some respects, broadened our horizons, allowing us instant access to information from around the world, and to communicate with friends anywhere at any time, I suspect that our social circles may have actually become smaller.
Especially those with children, who not only have their own activities, but must marshall their children to theirs, chances are that they associate with fewer people on a daily basis than previous generations had.
There are exceptions. I do know people who deliberately limit their involvement in extra-curricular activities, both for themselves and their kids, and deliberately choose those which do allow them to interact with a wider group.
I also know others who, like myself, deliberately schedule some “down time”, time away from meetings and activities, and even away from technology.
I do find that there is a cultural divide, as it were, between urn and rural folk. When travel time is measured in hours rather than minutes, one tends to be more careful in scheduling activities.
A trip to the Sault for groceries, for instance, is often combined with other tasks — taking kids to the dentist, or music lessons, perhaps. Why make three trips, when one would do?
There is also a — forgive me for this — “laid-backness” to life in the rural communities that is, for the most part, unknown in the city.
Here, again, there is a tendency to think of “everyone” as sharing in our own values and opinions, whether city dwellers, town people, or country folk.
I guess what strikes me, as someone who spends a fair bit of time in all three “worlds”, is that it is very easy to think of ourselves as “average,” that most everyone must share our values and opinions.
The corollary to that is that those who don’t share our values and opinions must be wrong.
Our society has become one of comparison: PC versus Mac; Apple versus Android; Big Box versus Family-operated.
There is such a push to choose a side in these comparisons, and to tar those who do not see things our way with a very wide brush.
The result is that we have forgotten that there are subtleties involved in every decision we make, that seldom are our choices black-and-white, but instead are to be found in varying shades of grey.
Sometimes, we just aren’t “average”. We aren’t one of the crowd. We stand out from the others, even if only a bit.
And that’s okay.
What a dull world it would be if we all agreed on everything, if there was no room for a difference of opinion, or another way of looking at an issue.
Perhaps, instead of merely defending our opinions when faced with a confrontation, we ought to consider whether others’ position have validity.
After all, while you can’t make everyone happy all the time, there’s nothing wrong with a good compromise.
But… that’s just my opinion.